Immigrant rights leaders pleased with reform plan

Immigrant rights leaders pleased with reform plan

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PHOENIX -

Monday, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators released their plan to overhaul the current immigration system.

Arizona is home to some of the fiercest debates in the country when it comes to immigration. So what do Arizona politicians and activists think of this proposal?

It was a joyous moment at the state capitol. A crowd gathered to celebrate the U.S. Senate immigration plan.

"The sense of optimism we might feel, the sense of hope something will get done, the opportunity in front of us, all are good indicators," says Congressman Raul Grijalva, Tucson Democrat.

This is, of course, the same spot where there were protests a few years ago when SB1070 was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. Those protests are now a mere memory in the wake of the last election. Latino voters helped provide President Obama his winning margin.

"It means our hard work is paying off, that the grass roots movement is getting stronger every day and politicians understand they have to be accountable to our communities," says Dulce Matuz, Arizona Dream Act Coalition.

"We are hopeful, but we are asking for the deportations to stop first, while this conversation is going on, and we have seen it before it can drag on for years. We want the deportations to stop," says Carlos Garcia, Puente Movement.

It looks like there is some enthusiasm and cautious optimism about the movement on immigration reform in the U.S. Senate, but not everybody at the state capitol is so happy about the deal.

"Well it is an amnesty. The penalties are pseudo penalties, because making people pay a fine less than paying a coyote to get him into the country is not a punishment at all, it is a reward," says Rep. John Kavanagh, Fountain Hills Republican.

We wanted to get Governor Brewer's reaction to the U.S. Senate immigration plan. She did not get back to us about an interview, but issued a statement.

Statement from Gov. Jan Brewer

"I have been in contact with Senator McCain regarding the now released immigration reform ideas presented by his working group of Senators.  I am pleased that there is expressed recognition of what we have been saying in Arizona: immigration reform will not succeed unless and until we have achieved effective border security. If this occurs, it would be a triumph for the rule of law and a testament to the united voices of Americans from across our country who have been clear in their call for the federal government to uphold its duty to secure the border.
            
"Our nation cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past by pursuing immigration reform before tangible and effective border security, particularly in the Tucson Sector, is completed.  That is the lesson of the last major immigration reform effort in 1986. The promise of border security was broken, and Americans - especially in border states like mine - have been paying the price ever since. We must not - and will not - let that happen again.

"In the weeks ahead, I will review the specific details of this immigration plan when proposed in actual legislation.  I am hopeful that the immigration system is reformed in a manner that combines the rule of law and human compassion, while strengthening the United States' competitive position in the world.

"In the meantime, I'll be speaking with Arizona ranchers, business leaders and other residents of the border region, as well as law enforcement. I will continue to talk with those on the front lines and I will make sure their voices are heard.  I am committed to do everything within my power to make certain our federal government finally upholds its obligation to secure America's borders."

Videos:

Immigration press conference (Part 1)

Immigration press conference (Part 2)

Immigration press conference (Part 3)

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